Rugby League features a number of short bursts of high intensity activity, including tackling and sprinting. According to GPS data, a NRL player spends approximately 6% of the game maximally sprinting or running. Anaerobic training addresses an athletes ability to recover from these repeated high intensity activities through efficient removal of lactic acid. The anaerobic system promotes the development of the strong, powerful athletic movements essential for success at the highest level. This type of fitness is often the difference between making, breaking or missing the tackle at critical points in the game. One anaerobic training drill I like to use in the pre competition and competition phases is called the Dragons Tail: To perform the Dragons Tail set up markers in the positions shown in the diagram. Starting from the red start/finish line, follow the arrows forwards and backwards, touching the before you turn, until you finally cross the start/finish line. This exercise should be performed at 100% intensity (maximal sprint). We do 3 sets of 4 repetitions of this exercise with a 2 minute break between sets. See if you can match it with the NRL players: Outside backs – 12sec with 36 sec jog recovery Ball Players – 12sec with 24 sec jog recovery Back Row – 14sec with 28sec jog recovery Hit Ups – 16sec with 16sec jog recovery Note that the targets listed above are for each side e.g. 1 side in 12s with 36 jog through, then repeat other side in 14s. Performances vary with position and ability. For instance, Trent Merrin (above), as a strong front row forward, will be slower to complete the drill but has a great ability to repeat at the same speed. In contrast, Matt Cooper performs the drill at high speeds but, in keeping with his physical and positional make up, requires a longer rest period to repeat the powerful actions. Jeremy Hickmans Jeremy Hickmans is the Performance Director for Wayne Bennet and the Newcastle Knights Please click here to learn more about Jeremy Hickmans and purchase his Rugby League Training Programs.